Social work and technology received a failing grade as a result of a National Institute of Health (NIH) study. The study makes a strong argument in a 2011 journal article which suggests that it’s a violation of the social work code of ethics for social workers who fail to institute evidence based technologies within their practice.
The article also points out how social work professional and educational bodies have not incorporated technology based learning to prepare social workers beyond the use of email communications.
In order for social workers to be competitive in the marketplace, social work and technology must be incorporated into social work education. Nonprofits, public services, and other grassroots organizations are increasingly relying on analytics software, constituent management systems, and social media in order to be more efficient in providing services and information.
The bachelors level or graduate level social work programs do not offer any courses specific to social work and technology. Some academics would argue that social work students are resistant when professors try to include new technologies in existing social work courses. Additionally, academics who want to conduct research on social work and technology are discouraged because published studies tend to be more clinical in nature.
Do you have a passion for social work and technology, and how it can be better used to enhance social work practice? Are you interested in testing theories and experimenting with new technologies to help identify tools for enhancement learning and practice? Then, let us start an open dialogue. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on whether social work and technology should be a higher priority within the profession.
Here is an excerpt from the NIH study exposing areas for improvement within the profession:
Despite this interest in technology, the attention that the field of social work has given to ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) in research, education, and practice does not match the efforts of other national and international organizations that view ICTs as critical to improving the lives of disadvantaged and disenfranchised persons, and necessary for all forms of civil engagement. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) calls for the integration of computer technology into social work education, but there are no explicit standards for integration or student learning (CSWE, 2008; see also Beaulaurier & Radisch, 2005). Asking other social workers, social work students, and social work educators can easily reveal that many are unaware of the NASW technology standards. A review of syllabi of social work courses will also show that ICTs, beyond e-mail communication, are generally not present in the educational environment. Consequently, social work students are not being adequately prepared in the use of ICTs, which are integral in the workforce today and will become even more important over time (Parrot & Madoc-Jones, 2008).
In this paper, we argue that ICTs are of critical importance to advancing the field of social work. Specifically, they provide efficient and effective ways for organizing people and ideas, offers greater access to knowledge and education, and increases the efficiency and collaboration of our work. This paper takes the position that many aspects of the NASW Code of Ethics (1999) can be advanced through careful and thoughtful application of ICTs. Thus, competencies with ICTs and ICT literacy should be required learning outcomes in social work education and continuing education. This includes having the knowledge and skills to understand and use ICTs to acheive a specific purpose (i.e., competencies), in addition to knowing the major concepts and language associated with ICT (i.e., literacy). Within this framework, this paper identifies specific aspects of the Code of Ethics (1999), showing how ICTs play a critical role in achieving the desired values and principles. Recommendations on how ICTs can be more strategically incorporated in the classroom, along with potential pitfalls, are discussed.
View Full Journal Article below: